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Use of lipid ratios to predict vascular target organ damage in youth.

BACKGROUND: Elevated lipid levels are risk factors for early atherosclerosis. Lipid ratios have emerged as potentially stronger predictors of adverse cardiovascular changes and atherogenic cholesterol. Risk stratification in youth with obesity or type 2 diabetes may be improved by using lipid ratios. We sought to determine if lipid ratios would identify abnormalities in arterial structure and stiffness in adolescents and young adults.

METHODS: A total of 762 youth aged 10-24 years had laboratory, anthropometric, blood pressure, and carotid intima-media thickness and arterial stiffness data collected. Subjects were stratified into tertiles (low, mid, high) of lipid ratios and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). Vascular outcomes by tertile were assessed by analyses of variance. General linear models were constructed for each lipid value and included demographics, risk factors and vascular measures. Correlations between lipid markers, vascular measures, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particle size and number were conducted.

RESULTS: There was a progressive increase in arterial thickness and stiffness across all three lipid ratios and non-HDL-C. The triglyceride to HDL-C (TG/HDL-C) ratio remained an independent predictor of arterial thickness and stiffness after adjusting for other cardiovascular risk factors. TG/HDL-C had the highest correlations with arterial stiffness and small, dense LDL.

CONCLUSIONS: Arterial stiffness is increased in youth with high lipid ratios with TG/HDL-C being the most consistent marker of vascular changes. These data suggest that identification of high TG/HDL-C in these individuals may lead to earlier intervention to prevent atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.

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